tv Lectures in History Vietnam Anti- War Movement CSPAN July 8, 2021 9:03pm-10:14pm EDT
association published james hoban designer and builder of the white house friday night on american history tv a panel discussion addresses the architectural political and cultural ideas behind the mansion recognized worldwide. they also look back at the life and career of james hoban who was born in ireland and emigrated to the us you can watch that at 8pm eastern on c-span 3's american history tv. next on lectures and history professor david farber teaches a class on the 1960s vietnam anti-war movement and how in his view had helped expand the nation's democratic process american history tv recorded this class in 2010 at temple university in philadelphia professor farber now teaches at the university of kansas. so we've been talking these last few weeks out loud. about a few core issues that having many ways. given thematic intensity to the
1960s era we've been trying to think about the meaning and reality of equality in the united states in the 60s era. we've been pondering what democratic practice could and should look like in the united states. and then very much so and very pertinent to what we're going to do today. what role the united states? should play internationally what role should the united states play in a world? that was fast changing in the 1960s? so we've gotten to the point in this class where we've reached a point where president johnson has decided by early 1965. to begin a forthright military intervention by the united states. in vietnam and the reasons have been fairly compellingly laid out by johnson between 1964 and 65 with the gulf of tonkin resolution. in 1964 the president made his case that there was aggression coming from north vietnam pointed at the south. and pointed at the united states as well in the attack and us
ships in international waters on that gulf of tonkin and remember it's really important to understand when this resolution was brought before congress. every single member of the house of representatives republican or democrat liberal or conservative from the south or from the north. all of them voted to approve this resolution in the house of representatives. in the senate only two senators voted against the gulf of tonkin resolution, and they had very different reason one was a liberal republican. that's that's kind of an oxymoron in 2010 language, but there were such things in the 1960s a fellow named senator morris from oregon. he smelled a rat he had a source and the pentagon that said something was amiss about what johnson was telling the american people about that incident in the gulf of time and the other guy was a curmudgeon senator from alaska the new state of alaska. it only just become a united states state and this guy senator groening was a kind of hard-nosed realist and he was
doing a kind of cost benefit analysis and his critique was i don't get it. why does it make sense for the united states to spend blood and treasure going to vietnam? there was no big moral critique. there was no larger issue about the meaning of americanness. it didn't add up for him. but again, these are two senators. there's almost no visible critique as johnson launches. what will quickly become an american war in vietnam? there were a few other voices a few public voices that raised questions mostly from that realist perspective. does this add up hans morgan fowler guy had been an advisor to the state department a big name in the united states at least academic community. he raised those issues walter litman a famous columnist been making pronouncements about american policy for by this time some 50 years. he raised some questions. he also critique this as a really just not a reasonable solution to america's interest
in asia. but otherwise remember there's a kind of consensus. it's an election year in 64 johnson and goldwater the republican and the democrat running for president. are both advocating the maintenance of america's position in vietnam. i mean i emphasize this to give you a sense for the fact that overwhelming what americans heard in their public lives what their politicians were telling them but their politicians believed was that the warren vietnam was justifiable and necessary. now johnson hammers this home in february 1965 after that play coup incident. that incident in which for the first time american marines were targeted and eight of them were killed in their role protecting in american air base in vietnam. he goes on national television to really make the case not just for. a resolution to allow the united states to move forward but to tell the american people because of the aggression by the north north vietnam because the
defense of south vietnam is necessary. we're going to have to start escalating our commitment militarily. to the republic of vietnam south vietnam and he gives a kind of litany of what do americans seem to compelling reasons. one he said we promised them we do that. we pledged in 1954 that we'd stand by south vietnam. this is a commitment we have as a nation to another nation state we have to do this. and then in echoes is something dwight the eisenhower the president in the 1950s had said about vietnam he warned if we let vietnam fall. all of asia could fall to communism eisenhower's called this the domino effect. johnson the democrat seconded and agreed with the premise that his republican president counterpart in the 50s had said all of asia could fall if the united states doesn't honor its commitment. to south vietnam and he also talked about the potential bloodbath that could occur if north vietnam was allowed to
take over south vietnam that hundreds of thousands of innocents would lose their lives. so he made a moral case as well. so political geopolitical moral these were grounds upon which he placed the american involvement in vietnam and again americans overwhelmingly supported this commitment both in congress. and in the public so you begin in a sense with a kind of public consensus? about the war in vietnam as being necessary and even more good an honorable appropriate and necessary commitment to the people of south vietnam. this is the beginning. and by 1965 early 1965 the war begins to escalate from an american involvement perspective. so american troops begin to be sent over draft calls. remember there's a draft at this time young men are eligible to be drafted into the military and the numbers of young men being
drafted begins to increase by 1965. and quite pointedly lyndon johnson unleashes an air war. on now the enemy an american air war on north vietnam an operation rolling thunder as it's called begins in which massive amounts of bombs from us airplanes flown by us pilots begin to be unleashed. on north vietnam now, these are targeted bombs. they're not wholesale destructions of cities. they're aimed at troop movements. they're aimed at munition supplies at factories that are building war material. they're targeted bombs. they're not terror bombing. they're not like what happened in the end of world war ii? but the bombs are intense 600,000 tons. of bombs will be dropped on north vietnam in this operation rolling thunder. large-scale support at this point so it is there any critique at this point beyond
those very few voices that i discussed earlier? yeah, there are some americans. who from the get-go from the gulf of tonkin resolution right through the playku incident the death of eight marines the launching days later by lyndon johnson of operation rolling thunder who do protest who do raise questions. but most of these voices most of these individuals and groups. are readily dismissed by most americans in some cases. they're the people we've been talking about in here these last many weeks. one of the first and earliest voices raised against the war in vietnam comes from a radical pacifist who runs a small almost underground magazine called liberation starts in the 1950s. it's not a 1960s thing. this is a magazine called liberation run by a guy named dave dellinger. dellinger a pacifist he opposes all wars. during world war ii. he was a young man.
he recently graduated from yale during world war ii. he was called up to be drafted as so many young men were at this time and dellinger refused to serve in world war ii. he'd gone to jail. had served time. it was a nonviolent protest. against the war he refused to be complicit. so this is a guy. who's against? all wars so vietnam is just one more in another war he's going to protest and his magazine as a beach front so to speak. for that pacifist critique. so there's this tiny group of pacifists who speak out. oh my gosh. america is entering another war. this is morally indefensible. there were others we talked about the student non-violent coordinating committee by 1964 and 65 snicked that group that had started out of the sit-in movements of 1960 had become in part through their experiences in mississippi, alabama and other hardened places of racism in the united states and those
days to become more and more radical. they weren't just looking at. instances of bad policy in the united states, but we're trying to create a more systemic critique. of american government policy and one of the critiques that they had developed by late 1964 early 65 these snick. radical activists was that the united states was complicit. with the kind of imperialism that they found so immoral and wrong in places like africa. so their critique of vietnam as a theater in which the united states would become involved stemmed from their already fairly richly developed critique of us involvement in what was called then the third world. so from africa to asia was for these snake activists not a long leap and other militant african-american not just associated with snake. also using this kind of critique. began to speak out early about
the war vietnam now. this is not mainstream groups. the reverend king for example in 64 and 65 is not speaking out against the warren vietnam. he had private reservations, but he did not make public those concerns at this time. so these are more again radical black activists in the united states again for the overwhelming majority of american people. like the pacifist this was a group that could be essentially dismissed. okay, these people are radical. they've got some overarching complain about us policy. you know, whatever. and like the pacifist these are not voices that are heard on the nightly news. they're not reported in the new york times or time magazine. remember there's a fairly narrow window of mass media at this point. so it's hard to get your voice into those few niches where you can be heard by more than a few hundred or thousand people. so these kind of people are not being loudly heard or really barely hurt at all. they're dismissable pacifists. black radical activists worried
about imperialism and then a third group that speaks out at this time. is that kind of nascent new left we talked about those white radicals that are in 1964 and 65 relatively few in number many of them associated with the students for democratic society. that group that was formed back in 1960 and it had began to spread throughout other campuses around the united states from its foundation at the university of michigan. they had a similar critique as their black radical counterparts. something about vietnam that seems wrong it seems again to be some kind of american intervention in a third world country where we're probably not welcome, and we're probably not serving the the need for those people to have democratic self-determination. remember the sds activists the white new left in particular were really honed in on this idea of democratic self-determination. that people including the american people should have the
tools and the means to realize their own destiny. to fulfill their own promise and their own policy concerns so you got white and black radicals. you've got an older tradition people who are generally chronologically older coming out of a pacifist tradition or a tradition of descent that extends back into the 40s and 50s. who are raising some real questions? early days about the war in vietnam but again a very quiet voice in the national conversation a voice that a large majority of americans can dismiss as kooks literally crazy people radicals so mainstream conversation new york times cbs news time magazine the president the senate majority leader of the house speaker. republican democrat liberal conservative the establishment
as some young people will start to refer to all these kinds. it is pretty much in lockstep. with the policy that's developing. incrementally, but almost inexorably. by the united states government in vietnam as the war escalates and again month by month. incrementally more troops are being sent from the united states to vietnam? more air missions are being launched from bases mostly at this point in vietnam. to attack the north and to try to end end the insurgency within the south of vietnam itself. so this is the process. so in some ways it mirrors. roughly or at least maybe it rhymes with some of the concerns that black activists had had. probably earlier days in the early 50s. let's say not the early 60s, but
the early 50s. when you've got a large majority of the citizenry of the united states in essential agreement about a policy. a way of life a vision of how america operates in the case of these black civil rights activists. this was jim crow laws, white supremacy. and other means of maintaining a racial hierarchy. so now you've got another group in the 60s a small group pacifists radicals. who are trying as a small minority? to convince convey inform the large majority that the policy they take is a given that the conventional wisdom that they've been bestowed by their political leaders. is wrong. flawed immoral the nature of the critique is fluid. but you've got this tiny minority saying. what we're doing in vietnam is wrong and even though the large majority of americans think it's
fine. we have to somehow. wrestle them into rethinking this proposition well, so how do you do that? right if you're this small minority trying to convince a large majority. that your president has misled you that congress is wrong that the mass media is either misinformed or misinforming the public. what do you do and again a lot of these people are either people who've been living in many ways outside the mainstream for a long time. or in the case of the white and black radicals. i've just described are you know your age? they're 20. they're 25. they're 18. what do you do? literally, what do you do? what what repertoire? of tactics tools methods do you use?
again to try to convince the majority that they're wrong. you know, you can sort of imagine in your head. there's all sorts of ways. you might proceed on that now this is happening at a time when they're already is a kind of rich movement rich movement. of people who've already embraced tools techniques tactics to to change political life right is happening simultaneously with the civil rights movement. so 1965 for example, roughly at the time that lyndon johnson is telling the american people. we've begun to escalate a military involvement in vietnam. you've got martin luther king. and tens and tens of thousands of others marching in selma, alabama. to ensure that the right of african-american to vote state that had long disenfranchise them. so right so there's this. this kind of parallel social movement occurring as these early and we can use the word
now anti-war advocates are trying to come up with their own answers and solutions. so obviously to some extent this nascent. anti-war activism is going to look. at the civil rights movement. they have a repertoire. they already have some means and tools and practices that might be adaptable. to our cause so that that's one piece out there. there's another piece out there. that's almost happening simultaneously, but again a precursor to this we talked earlier about what was happening on the university of california berkeley campus in the fall of 1964 really just weeks after the gulf of tonkin resolution is passed and on the campus at the university of california. you remember you had the free speech movement erupting. mario savio getting on top of the police car telling the students of the university of california. you have a right to political practice on campus. you have a right to speak out freely on campus about the political causes of the day now
he was talking about civil rights issues about racial justice issues. he was not talking about vietnam. but he was offering again a kind of interesting. locus a place from which you might launch some kind of political protest and here it's more pertinent for the white majority. here's a white radical activist on a university campus of suitable age saying we can use this place. we should be allowed to use this place university campus. as a place to mobilize organize and perhaps launch protests against a policy. we don't think is right. so right there's this. there's already this sort of available language and this available set of understandings and practices out there as these nascent anti-war activists are trying to think what do we do? well following that model it's
intriguing to see what happens. and johnson's speech in 65, march 65 is like a match that lights. well, it's not a bonfire at this point. it's like a little tiny fire. that begins to erupt around places in which they're already is an established political arena and critique. in the united states so one of the first places in which it kind of anti-war mobilization effort begins is on a university campus at the university of michigan again, remember the place where the students for democratic society had been first founded just a few years earlier. there's a movement among faculty not undergraduates not graduate students, but basically junior faculty. these are men almost all men. it might have been all men. i can't quite remember in their
late 20s and early 30s. who for various reasons are suspicious? of literally what johnson is just told them in this speech this nationally televised speech about why after playku we're going to have to start escalating our involvement in vietnam and about 20 of these young professors untenured. they have no job security. gathered together and room not unlike this and they say what should we do? i think we have to do something on campus to bring you the attention of young people that something's amiss. vietnam they literally sit around like this and try to brainstorm. what could we do and they kind of they do almost like a tick list, you know, what are the tools we could use what are the possibilities and they come up with a pretty simple solution. they say you don't we should do. we should not have classes on a date certain pick a day. and instead of teaching our normal classes. will have a kind of moratorium on everyday business and they use the word moratorium.
and we'll talk about the war in vietnam. i'll try to find some informed opinion. we'll try to find somebody who knows something about this really none of the guys in the room. knew anything about vietnam other than what they'd been reading in time and new york times and cbs listen to congress so they had no particular expertise. they just had suspicion. and so that's what they figure and now this all done publicly. they announce what they're doing and you'd be not surprised to understand that many powerful citizens in michigan as they get wind that these professors are going to not do their job for which they're paid that day. not teach their classes deny the students the opportunity to proceed they get a lot of pushback from this and basically they're told you do this you could be fired. this is inappropriate and it's not right to basically force your students. not to be able to attend the class that they you know paid their monies for.
so the professors again untenured no real job security. they kind of sit back and they try to think this through and they come with an alternative plan. they compromise. it's okay. okay, we won't strike we want we won't have a moratorium. we'll teach that classes that day fine. but after classes at 8 pm. can we have a room a big room an auditorium university of michigan has some mammoth auditoriums? and let us use the pa system and the blackboards and the room we won't disrupt anything. there's nothing scheduled and let us have a teach in sit-ins from 1960 right? they kind of coin a phrase. will have a teach-in. and will bring in some people hopefully smart guys who know something about vietnam. and will debate the greatest issues of the day. and intriguingly the university of michigan think about the university of california berkeley just a few months earlier who are fighting tooth
and nail to prevent savio at all. to have open access politically the campus the university of michigan every campus is different says as long as you guys don't strike you can do this, so tactic is born. right through this kind of big negotiating and thinking through a tactic is born. we'll have a teaching. these are early days. how do you convince a majority of people who are either supportive of the president's policy or in all likelihood? no offense to you 18 to 25 year olds apathetic about the policies that are ensuing. how do you get them excited interested and impassioned and at a minimum informed? you teach them take a university extend it into political. so that's what happens. eight o'clock it starts and they're blown away again. i don't know if you've ever done this, you know had a party right? you have a party at your house 8:30. there's nobody here nine o'clock. well, there's seven people here. i guess that'd be fine. seven people's cool. we'll be all right. you know, but meanwhile you're praying that the hundred people you invited show up. they have no idea how many people show up to this teacher.
3,000 people come right got auditorium. does you know that many people. it's astonishing. on a university campus early 19th is march 1965. there's 3,000 kids who want to hear about this. they want to talk about this. they don't just want they don't want this, you know talking head up above telling them. they want some back and forth. they want to they want to be part of this. that's that kind of sds participatory democracy spirit. they got 3,000 people show up. they talk all night. and at all them stay all night mind you but they go all the way to 8 o'clock the next morning 12 hours and then they kind of you know up with classes start in three minutes. we have to leave now. it's no breaking of laws is all okay. 35 other campuses just like within a week do the same thing. now intriguing issue you have a teacher. what do you teach? and where do you get information? there's no internet. there's no like oh vietnam. let's get a few perspectives.
you know, let's see what's happening. how do you do that? well, they're like scrambling trying to find these guys who started this teacher. they don't know. they just got in a suspicion. who do they get? well, they know a guy who's an economics professor out east. who used to serve as an economic adviser in vietnam? remember that nation building phase they're bringing all these experts smart guys to try to help build an economy in vietnam and ports and infrastructure. he's one of these guys. you had a contra he had a grant. to do this work in vietnam so he comes and he's informative. he's spent three years on the ground in vietnam and he says not working. i mean we went there with good intentions. they don't want us there. they want to do it their way. they don't want to do it our way. but the present tells you is not accurate. we are not welcome there. we are not seen as their great allies. we're seeing as one more big
power intervening in their affairs. next scout comes up again. it's funny to think about this. he's an anthropologist. he had done his fieldwork in vietnam, you know, it was a primitive place. that's how they saw it, right you would go and do fieldwork as an anthropologist and he'd worked with hill people up in the hills. i can't remember if we work with the hmong or some other group, but you know any anthropologist he'd been there a long time and he comes back and he says well, the vietnamese see the world very differently than us is cultural critique and but they see us as sort of like china or like the other great powers that for centuries have come and gone over their soil and they just same thing. he says they don't see us. as the freedom-loving democratic people of the united states there to just lend a hand president johnson. we were going there for no other reason than to help and this anthropologist says hey hate to tell you they don't want your help. so okay, you perspectives not traditional perspective. it's not a four-star general.
it's not a us senator. these are like alternative voices. the third guy is this kind of radical intellectual. young guys in his 30s he is, you know trying to piece together a living by writing and talking and dynamic arthur waskow he comes in there. he kind of gives the barn burner. he seconds that kind of radical critique that groups like snake and sds have been making he's older. he's supposedly well red and he says yes, this is another war of imperialism. he's the i word right? the us is a new imperialist. in this retail you can imagine the students. oh, okay something to grapple with and that was it that was like two hours and then they had 10 more hours then. of hanging out talking they broke into small groups classrooms like this. okay, and these things spread that's what i guess. i'm trying to say who you can bring in varied. did you have an expert? did you have somebody who knew something about vietnam i mean again often no. there were no courses.
in any university in the united states on the history of vietnam. there was no university in the united states that taught. the vietnamese language so you didn't have a lot of in-house experts? in the united states on these issues less we didn't have many in-house experts in the state department or the cia either on vietnam, but that's that's another can of worms. so it was hard to get information. okay, another turn of this same story. hard to get information right? you got young people you got all kinds of people saying that like, i don't trust time magazine. i don't trust new york times. i don't trust president united states, but you know, i can't go to a teaching every day. what do i do? so a 26 year old graduate student in new york and english literature? major she's writing her doctorate on english literature. but she's sort of part of this new laugh. she's been involved in protests in the early 60s. she tries to take advantage of
her skill set. i can write i can erase search. i know how to do these things. i'll set up an alternative media. on this issue and really incredibly rapid time with almost no money in her pocket at all. she gets a little grant from a teacher's union in new york. remember the united auto workers helped fund some of the early snake activities. so here's another little group these teachers unique and grab a little money out of and i'm talking at this point hundreds of dollars. but enough to you know, get a mimeograph machine and a few other things and she starts i don't know magazines is too grandiose a term for it something called viet report. an alternative magazine focused on vietnam and well, okay, that's sweet. how do you fill the pages? again think really practically okay. i got this cool idea what goes in there. well, she had an intriguing idea. she didn't really trust that
american writers journalists even academics. how dare she knew enough? to really substantiate a monthly journal on vietnam that told what she saw is the true story sushi luckily spokes in french. she had some connections in england through like a graduate student network and she began to use the european press. which remember had a far wider ideological? range than the american press. i mean all the way from communists to monarchists. and she began like many of you would do today using the internet she began to fish. for sources that she saw is giving an alternative. to the kind of things johnson and congress and the regular media in the united states report. so she was using foreign language. she translates them or get someone to translate them and she'd use that to piece together this alternative media. again, cool, like what are the tools of contention? how do you how do you create a counter public?
to the established one. so this was step two she wasn't alone in this in berkeley. you'll be shocked to hear in berkeley. there was another character guy ran a bar steppenwolf bar taken from the song steppable in which he decides that there's a need he's sitting around the bar a lot of drunk at nights people spewing forth this and that about politics in united states. he's like you know we need around here. we need our own newspaper. you know, there's the san francisco examiner. there's the oakland tribune. there's the regular newspapers. he's like we need our own newspaper for people like us who don't buy what they're telling us. and he starts out of his pocket. he's a bar owner. he's got some cash a newspaper called the berkeley barb 1965 and some ways this is like the first underground newspaper. they'll be lots of these underground newspapers that sprout up in every city in the united states the 60s here in philadelphia the free press. there's there's lots of them all this one sort of starts it off in 65 he focuses on vietnam and
he talks to those people who had long been seen as marginal. he talks to pacifists. he talks to snick activists. he talks to sds and other new left radicals and he uses them as his sources. right. i mean if you're a journalist normally, who do you talk to? you know you call the congressman you call the mayor you talk to their spokespersons. he doesn't use those as his sources. he uses this. this small scale grassroots but fairly quickly growing alternative set of experts. he fills up his newspaper this stuff. now the berkeley barb's pretty crazy newspaper. we have it here temple. it's funny to look at it's filled with all sorts of transgressive material. that's a nice way to put it. it's first newspaper, i think in california, i think there's already one in new york that will for example print sex ads. so this guy here guy runs it robert shear the bar owner turned newspaper publisher. right.
he's kind of a wild and crazy guy kind of a bohemian character. so combines cultural radicalism with political radicalism kind of an interesting new blend. okay. teachings university-based get the young people invested. this might have relevance to them specially the young men who could be drafted and go to war try to create an alternative mass media. you you can't trust the establishment media. diy do it yourself make your own stuff and again this starts to spread. these are tools of contention how do you try to convince more and more people that something's a foot that should not accept. so that's the beginning now. there's all these other traditional tools available too sds. students for democratic society many the leaders many of the chapters around the country already suspicious already raising questions about vietnam. but this is not their main issue. you remember we talked before that sds at this point was
involved with that attempt to go into neighborhoods of poor people white and black and organize them and try to create some kind of economic justice movement the united states. that's what that was sort of the focus of sds at this point. nonetheless, they're watching what's going on university of michigan at berkeley and other places and they say we got to do something about this vietnam thing. i know it's not our main concern. we're really focused on issues of race. she'll economic justice, but let's do something. so what do you do if you want to kind of do something on the cheap that doesn't take a lot of time or effort? that's not this massive commitment of trying to set up sources in europe and pulling it all. hey, let's have a rally. let's have a march right? this is something that's been happening by 1965 thousands of times now mainly having to do with race issues in the united states, but it's it's easily accessible and if you say to somebody hey, we're gonna have a march and a rally you want to join by 1965. everyone goes like oh, yeah,
like with the black people do all the time, right? right. it's an available tool everybody kind of knows about it. so they figure what the hell won't be a big let's go for it. and they announced with very few time a few weeks lead time. we're gonna have a march and rally in washington dc. april 1965 to protest lyndon johnson's escalation of the war in vietnam and once again, it's like that party. they plan for a few hundred people to show up. i'm going to get they don't have like national advertising for this they have no budget at all. to market or announce this and again, there's no twitter. there's no social networks that there's no easy way to get people's attention. all they have are chapters around the country and they put out the word to their chapters. they tell like other people that they should like come to this. it'll be interesting well once again there's a kind of shocking
moment when these few characters from sds are kind of up in front of the crowd in washington dc and people just keep coming. you know that they didn't really know what appear. 5,000 10,000 15,000 almost 20,000 people show up in washington dc for what is the first anti-war march and rally, you know the third tool. that these guys are trying to create and develop. is early days april 65 there aren't that many troops yet in vietnam though. the bombing has begun american troops in vietnam. and the head of the organization and i don't believe there's any video this because again, it's like right this is not the big time. guy named paul potter. he's you know, maybe not the greatest public speaker in the world, but he's the president of the organization so he gets to give the big speech. and he gets up there and he kind of gives a very carefully
rational dispassionate. there's no waving of arms or anything like that speech and he tries to wrap his head around what the united states is doing in vietnam. and he sort of speaking almost in counterpoint to johnson speech to take place the month before and and he sort of publicly struggling he'd written the speech down. so a little bit as fame, but he's publicly struggling. with why this is happening. why is the united states? going to start a land and air war in this little country. 8,000 miles away in asia and any kind of comes to this conclusion that he says there's there's some kind of system in the united states. that's the phrase. he uses over and over there is a system in the united states that creates these creates these interventions. and he says essentially i don't know what it is. i don't know how to call it. i don't know how to identify it. but i know it's there and we
talking to the 20,000 again. there's no tv coverage. it's just them. we have to learn how to identify that system get a kind of. open-ended phrase system that will create wars in asia for some kind of american interest. that's that's you know hard to pin down. a radical critique but a kind of vague critique interesting moment and in creating the open-ended question. again, it's kind of an interesting rhetorical move instead of telling people. here's you should think. he's saying like mario savio did just a few months earlier, berkeley. what should we do about this? what do you think is happening? so again, it's kind of an interesting organizing tool you don't preach your question it's kind of a rhetorical style that you'll see in a lot of this anti-world organizing at least in these early days. so he spreads the word we have
to do something now. there's another interesting touch to the speech and i shouldn't i shouldn't leave it alone because it's kind of a hallmark speech just one of the first big anti-war speeches made in the united states. he does this critique. there's a system we have to identify this system. what is it that makes these wars happen. what's the under veiling pressure? and then he continues and he says as i see it. what the people in vietnam want is really just like what we want here in the united states. he's making quite a leap again. he's a 20 something year old guy. he doesn't speak vietnamese doesn't really know much about what's happening actually in vietnam. he's been reading the first issue of viet report. i mean, he's got a little facts on his fingertips, but i mean he says but these people i feel are just like us and they're fighting for some of the same things. we're fighting for. they're fighting to be able to determine their own lives to have democratic autonomy to liberate themselves from forms of oppression. this is kind of you know psychologically seems kind of
projection. these are certainly the things he's feeling and that many of his colleagues are feeling and he attributes the same struggle in vietnam. as the struggle in the united states for a kind of democratic self-determination. there's truth to it. but he goes further than he sort of says what we're fighting here in the united states is the same as what they're fighting in vietnam. we're alike and we share much of the same vision of how the world works. and we're fighting something. that's dark and oppressive. this is what one of the members the anti-war movement will later call a kind of mana key in worldview. which is a sort of there's good and there's evil. and you again remember that existential notion you have to choose? which side you're on? okay, this is a little risky as a proposition. i mean they don't have to be too sides to every struggle with one good and one bad there could be
too good too bad. 50 fragments right? it doesn't have to be. the cold war kind of made you think that way there's the soviets in the americans did it? we tend to do that. i guess we have two arms. maybe we like, you know the third case. so he sort of posits this idea that the national liberation front ho chi minh are similar. to the student nonviolent coordinating committee to the students for democratic side. it's a it's an intriguing development. and a potentially risky one. for the movement itself early days nobody sure what's happening. it's unclear. well between 1965 and 1966 by the end of 1966 the war in vietnam has begun to escalate rapidly and it escalates rapidly because each time president johnson tries to essentially band-aid the deterioration.
of the american ally the south vietnamese the band-aid fails the military with the tools johnson gives them can't manage. the deterioration of the army of the republic of vietnam and the government of the republic of vietnam our ally this the forces that we oppose the national region front the north vietnamese government are gaining and getting stronger. so johnson is forced to keep putting in more troops. escalating america's land war in asia. he's bargaining. he's trying to negotiate with ho chi minh. he's trying to work out a deal as he's so good at doing with the united states congress. he's offering this. he's offering that but the american enemy won't move. they won't negotiate they won't. do a deal they won't compromise. so johnson keeps trying to incrementally increase the pressure. now this pressure causes incremental pressure causes a couple things to happen one. the war is starting to cost more and more money. we're all familiar with that
phenomenon. and it's causing more and more young men. remember the draft only calls up young men women are not eligible for the draft. to be called up into service. so more and more young people are getting their attentions. focused willy-nilly on the war in vietnam now quick aside remember the way the draft works is really know how else to put it messy. they're 26 million baby boomers who come of age? during the war in vietnam you don't and do that half. so that's a little over 13 million. you don't wait. that's 26 million men. sorry about that. that's 26 million men who come of age. turn 18. you just don't need that many people in the army, right? you know, they'd have to stand like this or something to vietnam. so you got to have a system a selective service system. it's called that's the real name to pick which ones go. so rather than send all 26
million young men there you pick. which ones will go to do that? you have to make some people not have to go now. some people don't have to go because they're incredibly stupid. right, you're too stupid. you can't serve in the military. some people are physically unable to go into the military so they don't have to go but then once you've ruled that out, you still got a whole lot of people. so who do you pick to go? well, there are deferments methods that are used to keep you from having to go at least right away. so for example an interesting one people don't tend to think about if you are a skilled tradesman. even in apprentice training to be a carpenter and electrician or a plumber that was seen as a worthy skill that was more important in the united states economy. then sending you as a combat soldier in to vietnam so you could be deferred because of the job you held. in this case a skilled tradesman didn't have to defer you could volunteer you could serve but you would be deferred. more famously if you were a
college student. or a graduate student you would be deferred from having to serve now college student is a specific amount of time you can't state. i mean this will be a shock to some of you you're not supposed to stay in school forever. you're supposed to get out after a while. so eventually you would become eligible for the draft but why you were student you were deferred you didn't have to serve one more weird thing about how the draft worked during this time. not only could you be deferred for various vocational or positions you have in american society? you could sort of negotiate with the people who were picking the draftees. it didn't happen in washington dc. there wasn't a giant ibm computer that spit out the names of who would be drafted. the way it worked instead was you did receive a notice? that you were eligible to be drafted you as a young man of a certain age and you would have to go to your local draft board. i mean literally your local guys, you know in north philly. there'd be a draft board and
doylestown. there'd be a draft board. there'd be places. you would literally go in there would be some guys usually old white guys sitting at a table. most of them would served in world war ii. who were the draft board literally again? it's a we tend to things as abstract. it was some guys. and then you would pitch your story i mean if you wanted to go you'd have to pitch story. you just filled out the paperwork you move down. but if you said i have a reason i shouldn't serve. either present it i have a note from my doctor. i have a really bad cold. i can't take the test. but the equivalent i can't go to vietnam. oh, you know for years i've had this psychiatric condition. it's just i'm kind of crazy. sorry and i have a note to prove it all kinds of reasons and the draft board could look at the stuff and go like yeah, whatever. on the bus didn't happen that fast, but you get the point or they could say i know you're dead. he's a good guy. you don't have to go. so it was really wide open.
as to who would end up going to vietnam obviously if you had more resources access to psychiatrists. access to good jobs that were necessary the money to keep staying in school. you had a real advantage if you did not want to serve. now in 65 when there weren't that many draft notices being sent most people. they got called up they did their thing if they got drafted they they went. but every month as more and more people are going as these university protests are heating up. as word is spreading that there are some at least to think this war isn't right or good. you know, there's more people interested in saying. and yeah, there's a certain self-interest in this. is this a war worth dying for? you know again your mind is focused if you're a 18 20 year old young man. facing that very real decision.
is this war worth dying for tens of concentrate the mind. so you've got now a pool of people who are potentially now more motivated to think about an issue that if it was. well, not draft induced might not. still i i strongly underline overwhelmingly when people were called up to their draft board 65 and 66, you know, they went through the process. there was no gaming this, okay? but again, if you're student graduate student, you don't have to serve their ways out. well, not surprisingly by 1966 is the draft to start an increase. there are young people? focused on the draft who begin to resist another tool and a different tool. then the three we've talked about so here's this kind of process that doesn't really have any corollary in certainly the civil rights movement. or in the other protest movement the draft how do you what do you should you?
in some ways protest this system as early as 1966 a few of these radicals were already invest in the process publicly declaim their unwillingness to serve a little bit like that guy dave dellinger during world war ii the pastors who said, you know, i won't serve in any word. now these guys didn't say i won't serve them anywhere. they said this war based on what i know by 1966 is wrong. i won't sir and they did this literal. catchy publicity garnering move every you know, you guys don't do this anymore. you have to register the draft still but you don't you still to carry a card. literally a draft card saying your status and his young man you required by a lot of carry everywhere you went so these guys took their card. and they burned it. i will not serve. now this is is symbolic. right? it's like they still have a copy of your card somewhere in washington. it isn't like it magically goes like whoa, cool.
it's is still but it's a symbol. interestingly a congress after these guys do this passes a law saying you you can't burn your draft card. that's connie wright, you just can't do that. that's just bad. and they literally put a five-year prison sentence. and burning your draft card interesting court cases will ensue. and actually the court's substantiate the law saying if you burn your draft card you go to jail. but it's the beginning of approaches and starting in 66, but escalating by early 67 a draft resistance movement begins. it starts in boston is the first one is it's called resistance. and again kind of quickly spreads. this is different model and what it does is it couches people on ways you can keep out of the draft. it also asks people to publicly state that they are refusing to serve in vietnam. so supposed to be a political thing not a private tricky thing that was called draft evasion a little different than draft resistance.
but same time people are being shown how to stay out of the world a different kind of technique a different tool. so what you've got now are people in 66 in early 67. in small ways symbolic ways mass. mediated oriented ways trying to come up with tools techniques. maybe an overarching strategy to somehow get americans young and old to rethink the premises that their president their congress and others have told them. is the national duty? right, you've got this process. so how do you escalate that? you know, you've got tens of thousands maybe by this time. it's probably fair to say hundreds and hundreds of thousands of americans who have become highly suspicious. even opposed to this war part, but the right the nation at this time's got 200 million people. most people aren't on board with this. how do you up the annie?
well instead of just having that one march in rally you start to have all over the country and then organizing nationally by a group that forms out of these various usually radical factions. to host to hold to mobilize just gatherings of people. rallies anti-war rallies in which people would come and speak and explain why the war in vietnam is wrong. again. this is this is not a new invention before america's intervention and world war ii before the december 7th 1941 attack. they were organized groups in the united states. america first was the most famous of them that held similar rallies to keep america out of the war. in germany they weren't really focused on japan, but this is a little different, isn't it? they're already as a war. so as people are rallying and protesting refusing or resisting entry into the draft you got to
remember. other young men are going to vietnam. this time tens over 10,000 by the end by early 1967 have died. fighting in vietnam many families are sacrificing so this is a protest going on while there's a war being fought. little different than world war ii and that there was no declaration of war. so freedom of speech freedom of assembly are still fully warranted constitutionally when there's a war declared. there's really different rules of engagement between the public. and the bill of rights but there's no declared war, but you do have american. young men dying while these people are saying this is wrong. you can imagine the backlash. you've got again most americans singing the wars right first of all, but secondly, it's like right or wrong.
our guys are dying over there. you have to shut up now. have to just rally around the troops. alright, so you can see that there's room here for more than just intellectual disquisition. about policy this is getting to be more and more visceral stuff. the stakes are ever more high. so by late 1966 in the early 67 the nation is beginning to polarize around the city without very small minority actively opposing the war. a very large majority saying you know, we the troops are over there. you've got a rally around the troops. this heightens the stakes makes things trickier. complicates the process there's blood. big spilled well, the war doesn't just end in 1966 if it did this wouldn't be a lecture. this would be three sentences of a lecture.
two and a half years. then he ups the ante. in 1967, some of the older guys, the guy mentioned earlier, literally at the heart of this movement and others younger as well are saying we're going to have to start combining our goals here. so we've got this witness program. he assemble, we witness in a sense that we think this war is wrong. we want people to see that americans don't want this war to continue. but we need to do more to catch their attention. some of the younger people involved said we have to adopt some of the guerrilla
techniques that the vietnamese are using. they don't mean violence, but they mean ways to confront, subvert. get in the way of the war machine, so that the pentagon and the white house and congress understand that not all americans would allow with a scene i was slaughter to go on indefinitely. in berkeley, for example, a small group, not part of the student -- an independent anti-war group begins to try to blockade the troop ships that are literally taking people to the port in oakland where troop ships go off into the pacific into vietnam. they literally try to stop some of the trains that are delivering young recruits on their way to war. they try to blockade the war. others start to protest the draft board. stay tried to link arms, not allowing people to get into the draft forts. up the ante. in 1967, a large group, some 75,
000, some say over 100,000 show up at the pentagon in the united states in october. that's by 1967. on the one hand it's a typical protest. we don't like the war. it's the moral. it's wrong. rhetoric. but they literally try to surround the pentagon. have you guys ever seen the pentagon? it's really, really big. it's really hard to surround. but they had a lot of people there. they sort of symbolically trying to stop the heart or the brains you could say, of the war machine by literally blocking the pentagon. now, there are some characters in this protest who kind of try to change the rules of the game. marches, rallies, cool, were around the pentagon. it's getting tv notice. it's clever. but we're bored. so we've got to do something cool to catch peoples attention. this guy who actually thought
of the blockade thing, he hooked up with some long haired guy new york city, andy huffman, and they come up with a kind of a goof, a scam, or they announced to the press that the purpose of linking their arms and circling the pentagon is not just to block people from getting in and out. it's actually part of a magical right. if done properly, they can levitate the pentagon. because the pentagon, everybody knows, is the ancient symbol of evil. so we have to do counter magic. this is kind of a goof. but the press is like, that's funny. it gets a lot of news coverage forcing stuff that is special. well, same idea. the president? that's cool. you have long hair. you're funny. can we take a picture of you? and suddenly, everybody kind of clicks. it's like oh, if you want more
attention to try to reach the majority, get publicity, trying to get people to hear you, maybe you have to do clever, goofy stuff that breaks the paradox. civil rights movements, right? think about it. very serious. very sober. even the people who are angry. angry. these guys are like let's make it funny. let's make it clever. dangerous. we're talking about war. we're talking about people dying in vietnam. the american public is kind of fickle. so how to reach them? how do you do contentious politics? how do you get the majority to focus and bring them out of their apathy? these two guys, huffman and rubin are trying to get people to focus. not just individually try to invade the draft, but to speak up publicly. to change the course of the nation's politics. guess what i'm trying to say? between 65 and late 67, all
sorts of tools are being engineered. all sorts of modeling's of how the public works are occurring. anti or -- anti war activists are stretching the boundaries of democratic practice. how do you do democracy? as they try to figure out how to caption the nature's -- nations attention. in 1968 is anti war movement will split. half, half is not fair. some large percent will continue these protests politics. rallies, march, blockades. confront the war makers. protesting at universities. but another large segment will say i think we've convinced a lot of americans. folks, that the war is wrong. we need to turn to the sort of the main highway of democratic politics in the united states,
which is electoral. 1968 is electioneer. 1964, we had a choice between bomb vietnam to the stone age versus incrementally trying to change the policies of vietnam through an escalating -- it had to keep it up, now at 68. maybe we can get a choice. some of these anti-war activists begin to try to persuade and convince, fund an anti-war democratic party candidate. they can go mainstream now. maybe we've got enough support now to go mainstream. maybe democracy in its most traditional sense will work. 1968, candidates are sought. they can position themselves in the presidential election in the united states of america. the first guy who comes is the guy for minnesota. not a major figure in the united states congress. eugene mccarthy. he steps forward.
he turns on the sitting president of the united states, the head of his party when johnston said i will run against johnson. i will stand is the anti war candidate. he shocks the punditry and probably most voters in the united states. almost defeated lyndon johnson in the first democratic primary in new hampshire in early 1968. that's when he almost wins and suddenly it's like wow even in conservative new hampshire, people don't like the war in vietnam. not protesters, not radicals, not pacifists, new left or, black people, while there weren't black people in new hampshire in 1968, but kind of just regular folks. they don't like this war. into the frame jumps the senator from new york, bobby kennedy. the president's brother. he also says i too will stand against this war in vietnam.
i too will challenge the sitting presidents of the united states. . johnson is horrified. he sees this is a betrayal by his own parties senatorial representatives. and it's a real moment of truth for him. not in the best of health. he's had gallbladder surgery. his heart is not good. he has incredible stress from a war he never wanted to fight but felt it was unavoidable. he decides in the face of this genuine challenge to quit. it is not quinte the presidency but he walks away from the campaign to be reelected. electorally, this movement has had impact, but it does not have success. cut to the chase, the man who wins the democratic nomination is not community as you all know was assassinated in 1968 by, someone not interested in
the war in vietnam. kennedy is killed and probably would not have been able to get the nomination. mccarthy never had the kind of gravitas, he was a charismatic political figure to carry it out, and instead lbj's vice president, a guy named hubert humphrey, a guy who was ambivalent about the war in vietnam but essentially promised to carry out the policy of johnson wins the nomination. opposing him is a republican who had been around the political bush more than a few times. richard mill house nixon. nixon lost to kennedy in 1960. he lost his bid to become governor of california 1966. richard nixon is not an easy guy to make disappear. he comes back from the political dead. he winds the republican nomination and he does something tricky, i won't be able to say much more today, but he does something very interesting. no nixon has made his bones politically as a fierce anti-,
communist as a guy who said we always must stand up to the threat of soviet communism. but by 1968 the war in vietnam was wearing thin with again, not just radicals, not just young people, but more and more americans. they did not want to be trade the troops or give up on their vision of with the united states stood for. they did not have a radical critique of the american foreign policy, but my gosh, the war had been going on now for more than three and a half years when election day came. nixon offers something interesting. he did not say we will win no matter the cost. we will defeat communism no matter what's burden it costs us. he said something different. he says americans must win this piece. americans must win this piece. he goes well, i promise you that i will win this peace for america. i have a plan to win the war in vietnam.
everyone is like wow, thank goodness. how are you going to do that? well, it would be unfair of me to tell you, while i'm not the president of the united states, because that would undercut president johnson's efforts to negotiate with our enemies. you will just have to believe me, because i am such a believable figure. i have a plan. to end the war in vietnam. we have to leave here today. the war does not end with richard nixon in 1968. the war goes on until 1973. richard nixon took office about 31,000 american soldiers had already perished. 27,000 more will die while richard nixon is president, because nixon does not quickly, easily reflectively and the war in vietnam. the anti war movement years ahead will radicalize and explode and create incredible
and the perspective of the south be new means -- this conference was held in conjunction with the travel exhibit, waging peace in vietnam with soldiers and veterans who opposed the war which took place in 2019. >> it's my pleasure in a moment to introduce our two keynote speakers, when at a time. but i want to